Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Slaying the Synopsis

Every writer has their nemesis. For some it's pacing, others conflict, others awkward sentence structure or bad grammar. For me, it's the synopsis. Nothing can strike fear in the heart of this writer as quickly as the words, "include your synopsis". It sends me into a tailspin. And ask me to verbally summarize my book, something the docu-crew did with the camera pointing in my face, and the reaction is even worse. It's hard enough to do it with several days work and a pound of crumpled paper at my feet, but to do it on the turn of a dime, verbally...well what you get is a stuttering, stammering moron who can't string two coherent sentences together.

And yet the synopsis, the query letter are what we use to sell our work. It's our marketing tool, the first thing the editor/agent sees. And I suck at it. I don't know why. I can write a business letter with barely the bat of an eye. But to try and summarize my 400 page manuscript into a one page blurb or a 5 page synopsis and I go into a complete mental meltdown.

I know this is an area that requires vast improvement, and I have noted some signs of growth in my synopsis writing, but nowhere near the level that would make me a happy camper. So that is one of my goals once I finish my first draft of D&B and start in on my revisions of The Outlaw Bride. To beef up my synopsis writing. To learn how to make it clear, concise and still maintain my voice and the true essence of what the book is about.

I will slay my synopsis writing demons.

So what part of writing is your nemesis?

8 comments:

Erin said...

Names are my downfall. If I had my way, every character I create would be John or Jane Doe, or something else, equally as creative. I've got pages and pages bookmarked for selecting baby names, just to give me some ideas.

Kelly said...

I love picking names. That's one of my favorite parts.

Maxx said...

Head hopping and POV's. Argh. I just can't seem to get past the fact that it's a bad thing to describe what everyone in the scene is thinking at that particular moment.

Peggy said...

Definitely the synopsis. I've come to realize it is an art form all in itself. And one I will never be talented in. I just cross my fingers they ask for sample chapters as well, or I'll have absolutely no chance.

Tess said...

Well, the synopsis for one, plus I always have problems with telling instead of showing. At least in my first draft.

julia said...

I take medication for my Synopsis Phobia.

Melissa Marsh said...

Pacing. And keeping the tension. I'm struggling with the last 1/4 of my book and it's driving me nuts.

Rene said...

Did you know the root word for "synopsis" is an ancient Sumerian word meaning "vomit of the devil?" Well, not really, but it should be. I feel exactly like you about synopsis. I've read phone book ads which were better written than my synopsis.